Ferryman's Gate

by Daniel Maycock

Experimental, Educational

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Number of Reviews: 4
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A deceased relative's treasure hunt, December 1, 2020

In Hollywood Hijinks, your uncle Buddy was endearingly quirky, imbuing his Hollywood-themed puzzles with a kind of silver screen logic. Ferryman's Gate reminds me of Hollywood Hijinks, but the deceased Osmond Ferryman seems fussy and judgmental.

Ferryman and I agree that clear communication is difficult without clear punctuation. However, Ferryman's interior design choices suggest that people should be put to death for incorrect comma usage. I’m not sure I can support that position.

The parser work is solid. There are locked doors, buried chests, dark rooms, and everything you'd expect in the "treasure hunt at your wealthy relative's estate" genre. The question is whether an obsession with punctuation adds novelty to the experience.

A lot of work went into coding, writing, and proofreading not only Ferryman's Gate as an entry, but also the style guides inside the game that explain its preferred rules of grammar. I respect that work while questioning whether it was worth risking a catastrophic invocation of Muphry's law.

I try not to pick on typos, but it's dicey to set characters up as supreme arbiters of correct language — giving them actual power over the gates of Hell — when your work is likely to include visible errors.

At the start of Ferryman’s Gate, a "volume of Gerard Manley Hopkin's [sic] poetry" is mentioned, giving an awkward example of possessive apostrophe use.

The Utility Closet, two rooms away from the starting point, "is empty except from [sic] a strange copper panel," which might be a figure of speech that is specific to Georgia.

Overall, I think that the obsession with perfection weighed down this parser-based treasure hunt and made it less enjoyable.